IEEE Viz 2007 - Day 1

Today was the first day of this year's IEEE Conference on Visualization in Sacramento. I went to a really interesting workshop sponsored by the NSF on "Enabling Science through Visual Exploration." It was the report out from a workshop organized by Kelly Gaither at TACC and the NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure with a group of scientists from different domains describing what their challenges were and what they needed to get from visualization (and what they mostly are NOT getting now).
The first speaker was Chris Gilpin from UT Southwestern Medical Center. He's a cell biologist. trying to visualization from electron microscopy. He has lots of data, no viz software expertise, only 100 Mbits/sec network access. It was so cool that he was talking about the need for access to an easy-to-use, large-scale, visualization resource and then he talked about using Maverick (our first Shared Viz site, E25K with 16 high-performance graphics cards) for visualization! It was like opening up a newspaper, and reading that your child just won an award (that you didn't even know about).

The theme of these talks was mostly:
1. There is too much data to move around and too much data to visualize on a desktop system.
2. Visualization is really needed to help in the analysis and understanding of data.
3. but scientists are not getting what they need. Existing tools are not easy enough to use and don't provide enough value.

The good news is that there are lots of interesting problems to solve and there is an increasing awareness of the role of visualization in getting from data to understanding.

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Linda Fellingham

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